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Purple Mound & Lipalian Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 2710
Trip Date: April 19 2014
Elevation Gain (m): 1100
Round Trip Time (hr): 7
Total Trip Distance (km): 20
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2/3 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Some avy risk, especially if ascending directly from the Lake Louise ski resort. Safer but longer to access from the Wolverine Valley.
Technical Rating: OT4; YDS (Hiking)
MapGoogle Maps


On Saturday, April 19, 2014 a group of us took advantage of low avy hazards and warm spring temps to attempt the Pumpkin Traverse near the Lake Louise ski resort in Banff National Park. The Pumpkin Traverse usually involves ascending three summits, but due to conditions we didn’t bother going for Unity Peak (I completed that one with Mike Mitchell in early 2016). We started up the ski out in much warmer temps than we were expecting. The forecast had called for -8 but it was almost 0 already at 08:30! We made good time and were soon crossing the ski run above Temple Lodge. Lipalian and Purple can be done quickest and easiest via the Larch ski run up to Lipalian and then traverse to Purple and out via the Purple Bowl between Wolverine Ridge and Redoubt Mountain. Since Dave, Bill and Kev had all bagged Lipalian already, we decided to try ascending through the Purple Bowl instead, possibly skiing some of the gladed runs on Wolverine Ridge on descent.

The Purple Mound and Lipalian Mountain Route Map

The Purple Mound

Instead of heading up the main winter access to Boulder Pass across the ski run, we headed up the run about 100 meters or so and followed the summer access trail. About 5 minutes later we came across an obvious cut line trending up to climber’s left, which we followed. At this point we were breaking trail in about 6″ of fresh powder and grinning like idiots, thinking of our run back down already.

The trail contoured the north end of Wolverine Ridge before entering the Purple Bowl. We stayed just to climber’s right of the stream running out of the bowl and headed for an obvious ramp at the end of the valley. (There are many ways to access Purple Mound but we chose the safest and least steep one.) Once up the ramp we noticed 3 other skiers popping out of the col between Purple and Wolverine Ridge – they had ascended a more direct route from the ski area and were also headed up Purple. We gladly followed their steep ascent tracks to the summit mound.

The Wolverine Valley with Redoubt at left, Unity at the head of the valley and Wolverine Ridge rising at right.
Looking back down with Wolverine ridge just to the L and far beneath us now. Lake Louise ski runs on the L and Redoubt massive on the R.
Kev comes up behind me with Unity and Redoubt rising above.
Pano from Purple Mound includes Unity and Redoubt (L) and Lipalian (R) with Armor and Castle in the center.

The views were amazing on this beautiful spring day! Unfortunately the snowpack was deteriorating in the warm temps. Wietse and I headed off to ski up Lipalian while Bill, Dave and Kev headed down to check out Wolverine Ridge and possibly ski it’s north east glades to our ascent tracks. The three other skiers were headed down to attempt a traverse to the valley between Unity and Heather Ridge before heading to Skoki Lodge. They looked pretty small next to the huge snow slopes coming off of Purple / Unity! I can see why this traverse should only be attempted in very stable avy conditions.

The Purple Mound
Skinning up the Lake Louise Ski-out road.
Skinning up the Lake Louise Ski-out road.
Crossing the Ptarmigan Ski Runs at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Crossing the Ptarmigan Ski Runs at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
On the ski track towards Boulder Pass and Skoki.
On the ski track towards Boulder Pass and Skoki.
Skiing up to the Wolverine Valley.
Skiing up to the Wolverine Valley.
Kev breaks trail as we enter into the Purple Bowl.
Kev breaks trail as we enter into the Purple Bowl.
Skiing up to the Wolverine Valley.
Skiing up to the Wolverine Valley.
Entering the valley between Wolverine Ridge (R) and Redoubt Mountain (L).
Entering the valley between Wolverine Ridge (R) and Redoubt Mountain (L).
Skiing into Wolverine Valley.
Skiing into Wolverine Valley.
Skiing into Wolverine Valley.
Skiing into Wolverine Valley.
Skiing into Wolverine Valley.
Skiing into Wolverine Valley.
Looking back as we ascend the end of the valley. Wolverine Ridge on the L, Redoubt out of sight to the R.
Looking back as we ascend the end of the valley. Wolverine Ridge on the L, Redoubt out of sight to the R.
The terrain above the ramp at the end of the valley is very pleasant for skiing and low avy risk. Purple is the high point at center.
The terrain above the ramp at the end of the valley is very pleasant for skiing and low avy risk. Purple is the high point at center.
Skiing up towards The Purple Mound.
Skiing up towards The Purple Mound.
Some steep rolls.
Some steep rolls.
Looking back at our ascent tracks with Unity on the right and Redoubt on the left.
Looking back at our ascent tracks with Unity on the right and Redoubt on the left.
We follow the 3 others skiers up Purple Mound.
We follow the 3 others skiers up Purple Mound.
We follow the 3 others skiers up Purple Mound.
We follow the 3 others skiers up Purple Mound.
Bill, Wietse and Dave with Wolverine ridge just to the L and far beneath us now. Lake Louise ski runs on the L and Redoubt massive on the R.
Bill, Wietse and Dave with Wolverine ridge just to the L and far beneath us now. Lake Louise ski runs on the L and Redoubt massive on the R.
Kev comes up behind me.
Kev comes up behind me.
Approaching the almost snow-free summit of The Purple Mound.
Approaching the almost snow-free summit of The Purple Mound.
Redoubt looks awesome! That was my finale in a 72 hour peak bagging extravaganza back in September 2005.
Redoubt looks awesome! That was my finale in a 72 hour peak bagging extravaganza back in September 2005.
You can clearly see why it's called 'Purple Mound'!
You can clearly see why it's called 'Purple Mound'!
Looking across hwy 1 towards the Valley of Ten Peaks.
Looking across hwy 1 towards the Valley of Ten Peaks.
Looking across Baker Creek towards Pulsatilla and Bulwark.
Looking across Baker Creek towards Pulsatilla and Bulwark.
The group at the summit of The Purple Mound. L to R, Dave, Kev, Wietse and Bill.
The group at the summit of The Purple Mound. L to R, Dave, Kev, Wietse and Bill.
Panorama across hwy 1 with Lipalian at right.
Panorama across hwy 1 with Lipalian at right.
Pulsatilla and Bulwark.
Pulsatilla and Bulwark.
Anthozoan Ridge lies in front of Douglas and McBride.
Anthozoan Ridge lies in front of Douglas and McBride.

Lipalian Mountain

The traverse to Lipalian Mountain from the Purple Mound was straightforward and relatively safe. Avoiding obvious (massive) cornices, we worked our way to the summit ridge and managed to ski right to the summit. Stunning views of Mount Temple and the other giant peaks around Lake Louise greeted us. The wind also picked up considerably and after snapping some quick photos we headed back down to the Purple / Lipalian col.

Wietse follows with Purple now lower in the background.
The Valley of Ten Peaks to the L of Mount Temple, with the Lake Louise group on the R. The entire Castle Mountain massif including Bulwark at left.
The Valley of Ten Peaks to the L of Mount Temple, with the Lake Louise group on the R.
Looking back over The Purple Mound and Unity Peak towards Skoki peaks at center distance. Pulsatilla, Bulwark and Protection Mountain at distant right.

At the col we decided conditions were safe enough to shortcut the re-ascent to Purple and we skied down to the Wolverine / Purple col on sun-baked crust, the skiing wasn’t quite as good as it would have been in cooler / less sunny conditions. We noticed that the others hadn’t bothered with Wolverine Ridge and figured it was due to the deteriorating snow pack. Instead, we followed our ascent tracks back out to the ski hill, on pretty sloppy snow the whole way.

A great ending to a great spring ski touring day at Temple Lodge!

A nice ending to the day was some refreshments at the Temple Lodge which resembled a beach more than a ski lodge in the warm spring sun! The run back down the ski out was kind of crappy, with slushy snow grabbing our skis at the most inopportune moments (just when we needed speed to coast the flat sections). Overall the day was a great spring ski trip. Highly recommended with lots of variation. I’ll be going back for Unity and Wolverine Ridge for sure.

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